At a symposium held on Monday, noted economist Debapriya Bhattacharya stressed the importance of strong democratic institutions in Bangladesh in order to take advantage of BIMSTEC and regional connectivity.
The distinguished fellow at the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) made this remark at a symposium titled “BIMSTEC and Regional Connectivity: Bangladesh's Opportunities” at BILIA Auditorium in Dhaka.
Formed in 1997, the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a regional organisation for economic cooperation. Its current members are Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal. According to Debapriya, it is high time for Bangladesh to make use of the opportunities and resources that come with this regional cooperation.
In regard to the Bangladeshi economy, he said: “We should focus on building a sustainable and strong economy, rather than focusing on the size of economy.”
Currently, 55% of Bangladesh’s GDP is somehow connected with the global economy, and Debapriya thinks this is an indication that Bangladesh should focus more on regional cooperation for greater international competitiveness.
At the same time, he emphasised the need to ensure an equitable economy “so that marginalised people also enjoy the benefits to be derived from these opportunities.”
Ambassador SM Nazmul Hasan, Director (Bangladesh) BIMSTEC Secretariat, along with Dr Lailufar Yasmin, deputy director of BILIA, presented their papers at the symposium.
Nazmul, supported by Lailufar, maintained that BIMSTEC is not a substitute for SAARC. He further suggested exploring new sources of financing and enhancing institutional connectivity.
Nazmul urged Bangladeshi businesses in other countries to invest in Bangladesh, saying that the government is inviting foreign investors to invest in the nation.
BIMSTEC will mark its 20th anniversary this year by hosting several events and meetings, including the fourth BIMSTEC Summit to be held in Nepal later this year.